Sunday, August 15, 2021

Afghanistan: The Cost Of Empire

I read (somewhere) recently that the dollar cost of running our Empire branch in Afghanistan has amounted to $2.2 trillion (subject to correction). Which, from the point of view of our various recent stimuli is really a bargain--chump change, you could say, given that the whole operation seems to have been run by chumps in uniform. 

On the other hand, perhaps the true casualty--and I have no idea how to express this in dollars--was the loss of our republic. We know that those trillions didn't go to building an effective, dedicated Afghan government and military. Who thinks it went to supporting a lean and mean US fighting machine? No doubt some did, but really--wasn't it really about spreading the wealth around, as Obama might say? Does anyone doubt that much if not most of the post-Cold War military has been about jobs for the boys--the various contractors. And who doubts that substantial sums made their way back to DC to bribe--I think that's the mot juste--politicians? A constitutional republic--that's the cost of empire, and it certainly isn't a revelation to anyone who's read a bit of history. As far as history proves anything beyond human folly, it could be said to prove that republics and empires are incompatible forms of government.

And what can you say about the resident chump at the WH--or about his handlers, mostly old Hillary and Barry cronies. Zhou said our military role in Afghanistan would be over by August 31st. The Taliban had different ideas and pulled the plug two weeks early. Incredibly, as recently as last night Zhou was telling reporters--presumably as instructed by his handlers--that a Taliban victory wasn't at all inevitable. And that our Embassy staff wouldn't be evacuated by Air Chinook:

Will we now be hearing from the MSM about the latest Hunter vids? Asking for a friend who thinks it all somehow fits together.

If there's a positive that could come from the debacle of Empire it might be that the US military will be held to account. We know that the real war that the higher ranks in the military have been fighting--that is, apart from the never ending battle for promotion--has been against the rank and file. Or, more precisely, against the privileged among the rank and file. Interestingly, unlike other measures of the cost of Empire, there is a relatively easy way to quantify what you could call the privilege of Empire or the cost of privilege--it's dated, but it's good enough for government work, as we used to say:

How to compare that to casualties among woke commanders fighting to climb the greasy pole of promotion? There must be a way.

My guess is that all that will play very badly back home. When will the resignations begin? As soon as our professional commanders develop a sense of shame, I suppose.

Then again, maybe this is all part of a pivot. Remember we were always told we were over there so we wouldn't have to end fighting terrorists over here? Or something like that. But maybe we're coming back to fight the war on terror right here at home. The military closing ranks with our incredibly bloated intelligence establishment, which should come as no surprise after the dispiriting spectacle of the military occupation of the Imperial City on the Potomac this Winter and Spring. 

I have to say that, having retired just as the "turn to analysis" was getting into full swing, I'm never surprised at the latest revelations that our Intel Community analysts' skills are on a par with those of Facebook "fact checkers". For example, this latest from the domestic defenders of Empire:

The really scary part of learning, once again, the sort of fantasy world IC analysts inhabit is these bulletins are doubtless approved at the highest levels of the IC generally. Further, to learn that these people see themselves as guarding the Establishment against the Great Unwashed, the subject population, speaks volumes as to the perceived legitimacy of the regime by its defenders. This bulletin easily embraces a majority of the subjects.

Zerohedge has an excellent write-up on this threat bulletin, pointing out--among other things--that if "opposition to Covid measures" is a sign of Domestic Terror potential then virtually the entire African-American population qualifies--since young blacks are far and away the most vax resistant demographic. The fact that these analysts don't understand something that basic tells you how out of touch they are. I really enjoyed this paragraph culled from the bulletin itself, and its new (to me) acronym:

Through the remainder of 2021, racially- or ethnically-motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) and anti-government/anti-authority violent extremists will remain a national threat priority for the United States. These extremists may seek to exploit the emergence of COVID-19 variants by viewing the potential re-establishment of public health restrictions across the United States as a rationale to conduct attacks.  Pandemic-related stressors have contributed to increased societal strains and tensions, driving several plots by domestic violent extremists, and they may contribute to more violence this year.

Why not RoEMVEs? And why not A-G/AVEs? I dunno. You'd have to be an analyst to understand the intricacies of acronym formulations. These are the foot soldiers of our emerging domestic empire--they also serve who only stand and analyze. Or something like that. One imagines them spending their days analyzing and bandying acronyms. Perhaps they've already come up with one like A-AVEDT. Anti-Authoritarian Violent Extremist Domestic Taliban. At the gates.


  1. Wray has been beating the white supremacy horse since his Senate confirmation. Why Trump picked him I’ll never know

    1. The FBI institutionally has been beating that or similar horses since the Clinton years--and it seems to have played will with the GOP senators who confirmed the several directors.

    2. Clinton, Dubya, Obama -- they were all OK with that.

    3. Whites are the only politically acceptable villains.

      Religious Christian extremist is a sub-category that is also acceptable as a villain.

      One movie had a villain as a White Russian nationalist Nazi.

      Our amazing Hollywood and TV industry does this all the time.

      Another frequent meme is the White Male as an idiot.

      Every other group would push back claiming Racism and/or Islamaphobia if their group was portrayed negatively.

      This also governs news coverage.

  2. "If there's a positive that could come from the debacle of Empire it might be that the US military will be held to account."
    No. The military are reflecting the mores and values of their civilian leadership, such as it is. That is why we failed in Afghanistan, and why we failed in Viet Nam, and why we will continue to fail until we cause a dramatic, if not violent, change in that civilian leadership.
    The fiasco in Afghanistan is embarrassing and disheartening. No one in human history has successfully conquered the country, and no one is going to in the foreseeable future. Our military knew that (before the great Obama purge, at least). Their civilian bosses should have known that.
    Our political leaders sent our military into Afghanistan to do something they (both military and political leaders) were neither prepared nor able to do: establish a national government and some semblance of civilization (as we understand the term) to control a seemingly disorganized and uncivilized people whose ideology fits comfortably in the seventh century. And, coincidentally, keep them from again committing acts of terrorism against us.
    Afghanistan is solidly in that part of the world where, since time immemorial, loyalties never or rarely include the nation. They are, instead, family, clan, tribe, and religion. They don't care about the nation, per se, and a national structure cannot be imposed on them; their "culture", traditions, religion, and history work strongly against it. These forces against national loyalties and allegiances, never mind the fanatical allegiance to their seventh-century "religion", cannot be changed or neutralized in a generation or two, and probably not in a century.
    Early in the Vietnam war, Senator Goldwater's position regarding the war was something like "Go in; kick ass; get out." We should have taken the same approach in Afghanistan.
    Following the attacks on 9/11/2001, something had to be done to demonstrate to the world that such acts are unacceptable and will carry a heavy cost for the attacker. But if that was our intent, we should have included Saudi Arabia.
    In response to any attack of the sort of 9/11/01, of any magnitude, our response should be swift, brutal, and indiscriminate. Everyone in the country, or region, from where the attacks originate should be fair game, because everyone, at some level, provided support, comfort, or tolerance. Hold them accountable and punish them, brutally, for a short period, and then walk away. Repeat as necessary.
    Our military should never be used for nation-building. They should be used to kill people and destroy things in defense of our nation and our way of life. Nation-building is the opposite of what they should do. Yes, it worked in Japan, but that was with a population and culture (theirs and ours), not to mention situational environment (like two atom bombs), light years away from what we faced in Afghanistan. It is likely that combination will never be seen again.
    It's all about money. Trillions of dollars spent, mostly going to defense contractors, consultants, and other swine at the trough of federal money. Many of our general officers retire very wealthy. It's the same kind of corruption I saw in Viet Nam (I was a civilian contractor at that time), scaled up massively.
    It fits with everything else we see from our "elites" nowadays.
    My only consolation is knowing that it's all in God's hands, and His will will be done.

    1. I should've been more clear. I agree with what you're saying, but I didn't mean "held to account by civilian leadership". I meant, held to account by the public, in terms of support for a military that has been lionized. That could translate into being held to account.

  3. One wonders how this could possibly have happened - we were using the right pronouns in the military, after all.

    Besides, you're obfuscating the REAL news - Biden prefers Rocky Road ice cream.


    1. And apparently will be out of sight indulging that preference until Wednesday.

    2. Joe likes Rocky Road because he has rocks in his head.

    3. Probably Takes that long to medically prep him and train him for his statement and answer the prepared questions from reporters in order.

  4. We've not bothered to try and win a military excursion since Korea and even that still holds shaky grounds on the most armed border in the world. It only worked because one side was serious about keeping their freedoms in check.

    We should probably keep our piss poor political policies at home going forward. The middle east religious cultures don't mix well with political cultures. Only the indigenous can change that but after 2000+ years who's the idiots for not accepting it for what it is?

    1. Be careful what you wish for. I think bringing those "piss poor political policies" back home is EXACTLY part of the calculus. They're gonna have a lot more time and energy to focus on those enemies of the state who keep asking hard questions about said policies.


  5. Regarding the IC analysts, why didn't they just call the "racially- or ethically-motivated violent extremists "BLM"? And the "anti-government anti-authority extremists "Antifa"? Seems like it would have been a lot simpler.

    Seriously, this is a pretty transparent effort to condition the public as to what might be an acceptable level of authoritarianism in the future, whether it be in response to the next planned Covid "wave" and/or some false flag event(s). It is easy to dismiss it as un-serious or delusional per se, but look at what is going on in Australia now for how little justification they think they need. That could be us in a few months.

    1. In the last couple years, I feel like we could set our watches to the time between when something is unserious and delusional hyperbole - and when it happens. Although the problem would be that the period between is getting shorter, so maybe thats not a great time-telling measure.

    2. Use a logarithmic scale. It'll come together.

    3. Difference between US and Australia. Aussies gave up their guns for the greater good.

  6. This is confirming the state of Dementia Joe's incapacity for bad actors across the globe.

    Xi in China may well be calculating that now is the time for a Taiwan grab. If he follows a traditional external invasion with an internal surprise grab of Taiwan Semiconductor. Combining a D-day with a Crown jewels heist, he will have Taiwan and the world by the short hairs. We all become China vassals in the blink of an eye.

    Crazy? Perhaps. Perceived weakness along with internal instability encourages crazy.

    1. Yup I was commenting that earlier today: if you're a general making decisions for one of the bad guys, the world police are effectively on strike and arkham prison doors are swinging open.

      the former republic of the USA is busy running off in embarrassment and giving you a golden goose; the puppetmasters are busy crippling western civilization, your virus went better than expected, the war games arent going well for the pronoun generals, we haven't really done much for any of our allies or made any strategic moves, and our focus is almost exclusively inward bound hunting for the domestic terrorists within. I wonder if we could even field a UN representative to lecture how disappointed we were if Chinese troops landed on Taiwan shores tomorrow.

      Time to strike. as the saying goes, "when there's blood in the streets, buy stock."


  7. I have it on very good authority that we knew very early on how to "win" in Astan. And it wasn't difficult or expensive. Problem was the winning strategy didn't provide sufficient opportunity for profiteering and career advancements so nation building it was.

    It makes me sick to think of every young man-- men of generally patriotic bent joining up for what they thought were principles of God and country-- whose life was thrown away by these arrogant #^#^@^@ at the Pentagon and State who knew it was a lie and a scam. Dturn

    1. What would it have taken to win in Afghanistan?

      Different Decisions….


      1. Recognize it’s a tribal society. Keep big army out of it, and kept it an sf war. With some help from cia funded militias.

      2. Make Pakistan understand, through whatever means necessary, you are either with us or against us. This would include targeting safe areas in Pakistan, etc.

      3. Keep power at the tribal level, do a federalist solution. Not a centralized solution that had zero chance of working. The mayor of Kabul, sorry, Afghan President, was a ceremonial role.

      4. Keep the Afghan military as regional based forces. A bunch of state militias.

      5. Build the Iran Afghan railroad earlier.

      6. Settle for a pacified country, instead of nation building.

      7. Not gone into Iraq, but kept the focus on Afghanistan. This one I have mixed feelings on. Iraq is no longer a headache since Saddam is gone.

      8. Kept Russia happy somehow, so there was a Northern supply route. Not expanded nato into former Russian republics. Much less supported color revolutions.

      9. Not throwing out Shah of Iran.

      10. Roe changes.

      11. Focus on countryside, instead of big cities.

      12. Perhaps a rail line from Pakistan. There used to be one to Kandahar under the British.

      13. Focus on corruption.

      14. Focus on rule of law. The prosecution of the sf operator for stopping an Afghan Child Rape shows there was a don’t see evil policy towards Afghan criminality.

      15. Do military tribunals with summary executions for Al Queda.

      16. Drill Baby Drill after 9-11. This was delayed to Trump.

      17. Change the military culture that valued woke, over winning.

      18. Avoided nation building in the first place.